Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Fun

I've been wanting to try some new stuff here on Girls Just Reading, so here's the first thing: Help me pick at one of my reads for next week. We will see the response and determine if this is something we do 2x a month or so.

What Should Julie Read Next?

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Julie's Review: Where The Light Falls


Author: Allison Pataki, Owen Pataki
Series: None
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: The Dial Press
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful novel about the French Revolution
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Summary: Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle. As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, André, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely—for themselves and, indeed, for the nation. Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Robespierre, Louis XVI, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon’s epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their belief in a cause greater than themselves. ~amazon.com

Review: Where the Light Falls takes you on a ride through the dirty, backroom of the French Revolution. While people screamed for revolution and overthrew the crown to get it, you have to wonder who was truly benefiting from it? Were the people of France better off for it? Certainly not right away as there was even turmoil within the ranks of the leadership of it as they turned on each other. Ms. and Mr. Pataki introduce characters that will stay with me long after I have finished the novel. Each of them, Jean-Luc, Sophie and Andre are fighting their own personal revolutions.

Jean-Luc came to Paris with his wife and young son to create a better life for them and to serve the Revolution. He has great potential but is currently cataloging the belongings of nobility to give back to the people. Through his diligent work he is introduced to some of the most powerful men in France and given the opportunity to join their ranks. Something about that meeting turns him off and he instead goes up against them. I admired Jean-Luc, he took the tougher path and stuck by his beliefs in the fact that all people deserved Justice, even if the forces were against you. Believe me, he made some powerful enemies but never once did he back down. He believed that what he was doing was right.

Andre Valiere is a Captain in the French Army serving his country valiantly at Valmy where his troops helped to defeat the Prussians. Although for some it doesn't matter because he's of noble blood. Andre spends a great many years in love with Sophie without being able to truly be with her due to being gone and then her Uncle keeping them apart. He even has her thrown in jail to keep them apart.

What I loved about these 3 is that they never gave up, they persisted even when things looked bleak. What it also showed me is that sometimes the people who lead the revolution are no better than the people who are in power. What are their motives? What do they hope to gain or what's in it for them? No one is every fully altruistic, even if they initially start out that way.

If you are looking for a novel that gives a behind the scenes look at the French Revolution, then look no further than Where the Light Falls.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Julie's Review: The Blackbird Season


Author: Kate Moretti
Series: None
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 352
Obtained: Friend
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction,Mystery
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Small town life and how rumors + poor decisions = ruined lives
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Summary: Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing. “Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times… Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.” In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate. Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal. ~amazon.com

Review: Blackbird Season is a novel where it's true intent comes out during the final pages of the novel. You are going in one direction the entire novel until you aren't and it all makes sense. It wasn't a ploy but a way of showing the reader how only knowing one part of a story skews our entire view.

I'm not entirely sure if there were many truly likable characters in the novel but they each played their part. While Nate was a solid teacher and coach, he inserted himself into the lives of his students where perhaps he shouldn't have with long-lasting consequences. He was more engaged with the lives of his student than he was with his son and wife. For someone looking in from the outside, it seemed like he was trying to run away from the hard job of raising a son with autism and at times I felt that he wanted to be a teen again. He enjoyed basking in the glory of his baseball players.

Alecia, Nate's wife, is the one who runs their son's life which includes multiple therapy sessions and working with him constantly throughout the day. So when Nate is late or not helping, she gets angry. She used to be social and she used to be fun but now she feels exhausted all the time. Gabe is her life and her focus, as it is for most moms, but should it be? Maybe Nate is feeling resentful because all of her attention is focused on Gabe. One thing I did notice is that even while Nate was under suspicion of having an affair and then of making Lucia go missing, not once did Ms. Moretti have Alecia blame herself. His actions are his responsibility not hers and it was refreshing.

While I want to say that I saw both sides of the coin on the subject matter, I was definitely more Team Alicia than Team Nate. The whole time I felt that Nate didn't understand that while a bold line wasn't crossed, a smaller line was definitely ran over. I never felt that he owned up to his part in this whole entire mess. While I appreciated that Bridget stood by him and really was the only one who believed him; Nate himself didn't do much to help plead his case. He actually looked and acted guilty most of the time.

I enjoyed how Ms. Moretti led you down one trail but then veered off into the woods but it wasn't like it was out of left field either. Once all is revealed you see how she laid the ground work for it.
I highly recommend  Blackbird Season for those who are fans of mysteries.


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Friday, October 6, 2017

Julie's Review: The Crows of Beara


Author: Julie Christine Johnson
Series: None
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Publisher: Ashland Creek Press
Pages: 402
Obtained: Author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful story of losing yourself and then finding yourself again
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Summary: When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life. Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine. Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people. Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Crows of Beara is about losing yourself, becoming some one you don't recognize, to gaining back the control in your life. Annie is at the end of her rope with her marriage and her job. Her life has been derailed for some time and this trip to Ireland for work is her way of trying to get back on track. Annie has been lost for so long that she's not sure where to start and how to start.

Her mission while in Ireland is to convince the locals that the jobs the mine would bring out weighs the cost to the environment around them. She partners with the CEO of the mine to outline what their agenda and strategy is going forward. Except there's something a bit unsettling about how James feels completely comfortable with her right from the beginning.

As she's hiking along the Beara Peninsula, she feels drawn to the land and to what it is trying to say to her. The longer she's there the more time she spends on it, the more she feels the pull of it. She knows this job could end her career but she's not so sure any more that its a bad thing.

Annie is a character that you cheer for, that you want her to find her way. You know she's going to stumble but can she recover from that bump in the road.  You want her to forgive herself for her past mistakes and move on from them. Self-loathing will get her no where.

What I love about Ms. Johnson's writing is that she adds a mystical bend to the plot that adds mystery and intrigue into it. In this case it's the legend of the Old Hag of Beara and the song that sings to both Annie and Danny. It is about how a place can heal you and help you find who you are meant to be. Home isn't always a place but a feeling and often the people you surround yourself with as well.

If you love books about finding yourself and how sometimes you need to have setbacks to put you on the right path, then pick up The Crows of Beara.


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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Julie's Review: The Other Girl


Author: Erica Spindler
Series: None
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 256
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Suspense, Crime
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A great crime/suspense novel that doesn't rely on the unreliable narrator
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Summary: Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis―but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community. When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop―the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common―except Miranda. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Other Girl is story that spins how our past can come back to haunt us and how it can effect our present lives. We are told the story of a recent murder through Detective Miranda Rader and how she's been tapped to lead the investigation. Miranda is the top detective in the force but when she see the clipping from an article about a crime that happened years ago, she starts to make some stupid mistakes.

Miranda starts to question how the pieces of this murder fit into the traumatic events in her past. Why has she been pulled into this? What is she going to do about it? Before she can learn any more, she's pulled off the case. Which lends itself to even more suspicion? If she's a strong detective, why pull her off?

Ms. Spindler weaves a quick moving suspense novel that will have you quickly turning the pages. You root for Miranda (and her with Jake). You want her to figure out why this is all coming down on her 15 years later. What ties her to the victim? As a woman you want her to stuff it to the old boys network and prove that the victim, while yes was murdered, that maybe he wasn't the person he wanted people to believe.

Fans of a crime/suspense novel won't want to miss this one. I will be checking out some of her other suspense novels.


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Friday, September 22, 2017

Julie's Review: Best Day Ever


Author: Kaira Rouda
Series: None
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 368
Obtained: GetRedPR
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A fantastic novel in the domestic thriller genre
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Summary: Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever. But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. ~amazon.com  

Review:If you aren't keen on unreliable narrators, then you might want to skip Best Day Ever
BUT you'll be making a huge mistake. HUGE. Paul Strom is successful, he's got a great career, wife, kids, the whole American dream. He's is literally living the dream. As Paul begins to tell us the story of how this is going to be the "Best Day Ever" you start to understand that maybe he's not telling you everything you need to know. He's keeping his cards close to his chest. He's only going to tell us what he wants us to know and when.

We see his wife and his boys through his eyes. How perfect his boys are and how his wife is so beautiful but something is amiss. Something doesn't feel right very early in the novel with Paul. He's off. He doesn't seem to have a grip on reality. It's clear that while he might think that this will be the "Best Day Ever" it's for a very different reason than what his wife thinks.

As the book unravels, so does Paul. His shiny demeanor begins to show kinks and dents. He frankly, starts to lose his shit. Mia isn't as complacent as you first think she is. She's not as meek as the reader thinks or certainly as Paul thinks. You keep hoping that something is going to happen where Paul realizes he isn't so smart but he's a narcissistic psychopath, so really that's not going to happen.

At a certain point in the novel you will give up everything you are doing or need to do to finish the book and you will know when that happens.

I've read a lot of books in this domestic suspense recently and Ms. Rouda's entry in it is superb. It reminds me a lot of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris but definitely not the same. If you are into this sub-genre of psychological thrillers then you should pick this one up post haste.



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Julie's Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited


Author: Sarah Miller
Series: None
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Edelweiss+
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A fascinating look at Ma from Little House on the Prairie fame
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Summary: In this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books. In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril. The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses. For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past. ~amazon.com  

Review: First of all, I would have never made it as a Pioneer woman. So I have much respect for everything they had to do to keep their families alive and well as documented in Caroline: Little House, Revisited.

Caroline Ingalls is a marvel but even more so is her marriage to Charles. He treated her like an equal when I'm pretty sure men in the time didn't always share that view. He was head over heels for her and she with him. He respected her opinion and valued it. She knew what was expected of her but it didn't stop her from wanting a bit more than what was in front of her.

While Caroline knew that leaving her comfort zone with her family to lean on and help. Not to mention when it come to working the farm, she knew it would be more difficult for them to manage on their own. She would need to help more while also tending to the 2 girls and the new baby on the way.

There are subject matters that aren't easy to read about in the book but are typical of that time period. Caroline has a huge distrust and bigotry towards Native Americans. I can see why she was scared at certain points but really they were being pushed off their land. I'm not sure if she understood the magnitude of that decision.

It is obvious that Ms. Miller did her research on Caroline and the time period. It shows in the writing of the details. At times it feels that you are in the wagon or on the plains with them. Ms. Miller chose to focus on the period of time in the Ingalls' lives that moved them from Wisconsin to Kansas instead of her entire life.

If you are a fan of the Little House House series, then you won't want to miss Caroline: Little House, Revisited. It made me want to go pull out my daughter's books again.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Julie's Review: The Light We Lost


Author: Jill Santopolo
Series: None
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Putnam
Pages: 336
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Epic
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Summary: He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last? Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning. Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts. This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation. ~amazon.com  

Review: Drop everything and go pick up Light We Lost. You will cry, you will laugh, your heart will rejoice and your heart will break. This is one of those books that will make you fall in love with love. The story of Gabe and Lucy is epic. Their love is hot but never fades away. Somehow, someway they keep coming back to each other throughout various stages of their lives. Both of them are young when they meet each other on 9/11/2001 and it is a date that will forever keep them connected. Lucy and Gabe are have a connection from the first time they meet but certain circumstances exist that don't allow them to be together until fate brings them together a couple years later. Both of them are passionate people which helps to ignite their love for each other. Sometimes being passionate can mean restlessness as you try to figure out your life's path. Decisions always change the path of your life but sometimes it changes someone else's path as well. Gabe and Lucy share everything and are always encouraging each other with their careers. He never belittles her career or minds that she is career focused. It isn't until Gabe's decision about his career will ultimately be the demise of their relationship.

Neither Lucy or Gabe are perfect, they are both far from it but together they really are yin and yang. They compliment each other like good couples should. As with life, it moves on and both of them do in their own ways but yet they still orbit around each other, maintaining contact via email/text and occasionally seeing each other. We see the story from Lucy's view point and I do kind of wonder what Gabe's point of view would be if she had chosen to tell the story from both perspectives. Lucy doesn't excuse her behavior in some ways and she doesn't ask us to forgive her choices; after all who are we to judge her? What would we do if given the same choices. I think it is possible to love and be in love with 2 vastly different people at the same time. Lucy learns things from Darren that she would have never learned by being with Gabe. Gabe though was her star and her center; how do you compete with that? I think it's a good thing that Darren never knew there was a competition going on in Lucy's mind.

I loved what Lucy's mom said to her on her wedding day, something to the effect of a relationship ebbs and flows, sometimes you will be the one who loves your significant other more and sometimes you will be the one who gets more love. This is so true and it's how you make it through these different times that define you as a couple.

I really feel that Light We Lost is a book that you need to read for yourself. My review will not do it justice. Ms. Santopolo did an excellent job of capturing first love,y young love, marriage and the fact that sometimes there's someone your history is always linked to no matter how hard you try to disconnect yourself from them.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Julie's Review: Every Last Lie


Author: Mary Kubica
Series: None
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: A quick paced novel about losing grip on reality and finding the way back
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon. Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit. Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried. ~amazon.com  

Review: Every Last Lie is a novel that will keep you turning the pages to find out what exactly happened to Nick. Was the accident really his fault? Did someone run him off the road? Who is this bad man that their 4 year old, Maisie, keeps having nightmares about?

Honestly, I put myself in Clara's shoes for the entire book and I felt horrible for her. She's had no sleep since 6 months on due to the size of the baby and how he was sitting, so that's enough to make someone go a bit crazy plus she's days home with the baby and her husband died in a horrific accident. She's pretty much barely functioning, although sometimes I didn't think she was functioning at all.

As Maisie starts to have nightmares about the "bad man", Clara clings to this as evidence of foul play and that her husband wasn't truly responsible for his own death. Some one was after her husband, but who? Why? Her husband was a likable guy. We are also told the events leading up to the accident from Nick's POV.

It is evident that he loves and adores his wife, daughter and unborn child but other than that, he's not really a stand up guy. He's one of those people who have trouble living in reality and living beyond his means. He took on too much with the house that needed renovating and then opening his own practice. He wanted to keep up with the Jones' without being able to do so. He makes poor decisions that ultimately lead to more poor decisions. He never lets Clara in on it, so he takes all his problems to the grave.

It isn't until the end of the novel that you feel that Clara is finally starting to understand things clearly and yet you wonder if she'll ever fully recover from the issues that Nick's death dealt her.

I really enjoyed Every Last Lie especially with a good twist at the end. If you are looking for a new thriller/suspense author and you haven't read Ms. Kubica, then her back-list is ready for you to read.


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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Julie's Review: Little Fires Everywhere


Author: Celeste Ng
Series: None
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via Edelweiss+
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: A must read
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Summary: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. ~amazon.com

Review: Little Fires Everywhere should be the book that everyone is talking about this fall. It is such a well-written and crafted story. There are a few different story lines but they all converge together in the end and they each add an element to the overarching themes. Each of the characters have flaws but they also have redeeming qualities that perhaps, in time, will outweigh the flaws.

The book starts with the Richardson house being on fire and goes back to the events that lead up to this event. From there we are introduced to the tenants, Mia and her daughter Pearl plus the entire Richardson clan headed by the matriarch Mrs. Eleana Richardson. It's easy to look at their life and to think they have it all, great jobs, great kids (for the most part), great house = great life. As we know things aren't always what they seem but they aren't that bad. It would be easy to dislike the Richardson family but I found them likable. They worked for where they got to and prided themselves on building their lives. None of their kids are perfect as we find out but the one that is considered the "black sheep" of the family is the youngest daughter, Izzy. Izzy and her mom are alike and therefore they butt-heads. 

Mia and Pearl are travelers/vagabonds and when they end up in Shaker Heights, Mia promises Pearl that this is it, they are staying put. So Pearl starts to make friends and make an effort at school. Her best friend is Moody Richardson and soon she is at their house after school hanging out and getting to know his siblings, Lexie and Trip. It's not hard to see the writing on the wall when it comes to Trip and Pearl. What I liked is that the Richardson kids are pretty much typical teenagers who find themselves in situations that occur on a regular basis and deal with them as teenagers would.
Pearl is wise beyond her years and as things start to unravel, she's the one who can see the situation the clearest.

There were times when I vacillated between liking Mia and wanting to throttle her. As her back story is uncovered, I spent most of my time wanting to throttle her because of the choices she made. It also made me understand as a reader, why she was always on the move. She did have an uncanny way of reading people and demonstrating that in her art.

I truly enjoyed reading each story-line and then having them all converge in a way that was realistic. If you read one book this fall, I highly recommend Little Fires Everywhere.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Julie's Review: The Widow


Author: Fiona Barton
Series: None
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 336
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A disturbing look at a child abduction and all the people it affects
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Summary: There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything...~amazon.com  

Review: Widow is one of those novels that will make you wonder which side is up and what's the angle but when it comes down to it, it's a suspense novel that doesn't rely on a huge twist at the end. This was definitely refreshing for me. Not that I don't love a great twist, but that seems to be the go to plot device lately.

Jean is finally on her own after years of marriage to Glen who really controlled every aspect. She finally be who she wants to be and tell her story. Although when approached by reporters she doesn't seem to know if she wants to tell her side because there are always 2 sides. What it really boils down to is that she hasn't had her own voice ever. She went straight from her parent's house to Glen's. He controlled everything and she didn't mind, until she did.

Jean isn't an easy character to understand, she a waffler and very unsure of herself. There were times when I thought she had a mental illness because of how she would refer to herself. There were definitely times that I felt sorry for her but also those times where I felt she could have had the upper hand with Glen in their marriage and turned the tables on him.

While the book is really about Jean, you can't know her without knowing what Glen did and how he controlled her. It is about her complacency in her own life that drove me bonkers. While Glen was a sick SOB, Jean had her own issues and secrets but none as heinous as his.

I enjoyed the book a great deal but felt that at times it lagged and some of it could have been edited down to get to the climax a bit quicker. So if you are looking for a fast paced suspense, this may not be for you but if you prefer the slow reveal, you should pick up Widow.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Julie's Review: Fitness Junkie


Author: Jo Piazza & Lucy Sykes
Series: None
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Humor
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A delightful, funny book about the fitness industry fads
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Summary: When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture. ~Amazon.com

Review:  I'm not a fitness fanatic, okay I don't even really like working out because it feels like a chore, so the women in Fitness Junkie, who are obsessed with every trend, I don't get them. Seriously. I get the need to be healthy and well (I need to be better at it) but these women view it as their lives and in some ways a competition. Who's into the newest trend? Have you been invited to the super secret workout location? What about this diet and that, etc? To me, it seems like they are bored and trying to find ways of filling a void.

What Ms. Piazza and Ms. Sykes do well is satire of an industry that seems to be a bit full of itself. No one in the fitness/lifestyle world is without reproach. Their heroine, Janey, even begins to drink the kool-aid for a while until she drank too much of it. Janey's best friend, Beau, tells her that she needs to take a 3 month break from their successful business so that she can lose 30 lbs she's put on. She's the face of the business and well she can't be seen as she is currently. So she turns to her best gal pal, CJ, who is always on the up and up on the lastest fitness routine and dietary restrictions.

Of course, the novel isn't just about fitness, but it's about Janey's journey into figuring out what it is that she wants to do for the rest of her life and if some friendships really do have an expiration date. I loved Janey and wanted her to go after Beau in the worst way but in the end I think she got him where it really counted and when it counted.

For those that love a book with a sense of humor and purpose, then Fitness Junkie is for you.





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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Julie's Review: In This Moment


Author: Karma Brown
Series: None
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Park Row Books
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: How split second decision can alter your life and those around you
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Summary:Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she’s able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes. After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him. Meg can’t help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy’s family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy’s father. Soon Meg’s picture-perfect life is unraveling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she’s been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart? ~amazon.com  

Review: In This Moment is a novel that allows you to wonder what you would do if you were in Meg's shoes. Would you have waved a kid across at an intersection that had no crosswalk? Or perhaps you have and it turned out just fine but unfortunately for two families, this isn't what happened.

The accident spawns Meg's downward spiral into guilt, shame and anxiety. It has her reliving the death of her best friend in high school, which she still carries guilt around. It causes her to pull away from her husband and daughter. She doesn't know how to tell them about her involvement with Paige's death. She's internalized it for so long that she feels she can't verbalize it. It's what haunts her sleep. I felt as if I was experiencing the slow downward spiral with Meg, which was a good thing. It put you in her shoes and living what she was at the same time. I felt horrible for Meg but also wish she would have leaned on her husband or family a bit more.

As Meg struggles with the guilt of being part of an accident, her daughter Audrey is also struggling with her own issues from the accident. She turns to reckless behavior which she wasn't prone to previously. She also pulls away from her parents and begins to lie to them about her whereabouts.

My frustration throughout the novel was Ryan, Meg's husband and Audrey's dad. He seemed so oblivious about what they were going through. He saw the signs in both of them that said they weren't dealing properly with the accident but chose to believe they were both fine. It wasn't until things came crashing down around them that he finally acknowledged they weren't "fine". Some of Meg's decisions weren't smart but she was also reeling. I felt that Ryan needed to acknowledge his role in their issues as well.

Ms. Brown always writes engaging characters, with real life situations that you end up asking yourself how you would react. I can't wait to read what she publishes next.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Julie's Review: I Found You


Author: Lisa Jewell
Series: None
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A page turner that will have you wondering how it all ties together
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Summary: In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside. Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed. Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother. Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray? ~amazon.com  
Review: If you want a page turning suspense and mystery novel, then I Found You is for you. The story is told in 3 different parts: Alice/Frank, Lily, Gray. Alice happens upon "Frank" as he's sitting on the beach staring at the sea with no recollection of what is going on, how he got there or who he is. Alice, who still believes in the good of people even though she shouldn't, invites him back to her house to sleep in the shed she rents out. She promises her best friend that she won't get involved, but that's just not who she is or what she does. So she tries to help Frank regain his memory by giving him a safe place to say and an ear to listen.

Outside of London, Lily is freaking out because her husband doesn't come home after work and doesn't answer her phone. This is strange because he always takes the same train and gets home at the same time every night. Of course, the police tell her to give it time and he might come home. When evidence suggest that her husband doesn't exist, Lily decides to take things into her own hands. Then we get the flashback story of Gray and Kirsty on their family vacation in Ridinghouse Bay. This is where they meet Mark Tate, a young man who is a little off but clearly besotted by Kirsty. Gray feels that there is something off about him but can't quite put his thoughts around it. He wants to believe that his instincts are right and he's not just jealous that his kid sister might get her first kiss before he does.

While I figured out a few things earlier in the novel, it didn't stop me from wanting to finish the book. I figured that the author had something up her sleeve and it wasn't as straight-forward as I thought. I loved how Ms. Jewell sewed all the story lines together in the end. I loved how she showcased that each of us is capable of crossing a line when we feel that our lives are in danger or the lives of those we love are in danger.

I forget how much I love a true mystery and suspense novel because I get so caught up in the domestic suspense/psychological thriller arena. Ms. Jewell should still with the mystery genre because she's knows how to write a good one.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Julie's Review: Mrs. Saint and the Defectives


Author: Julie Lawson Timmer
Series: None
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: Publicist  via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A novel with depth that wasn't expected but enjoyed
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Summary: Markie, a fortysomething divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not. What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness. ~amazon.com

Review: Mrs. Saint and the Defectives is a novel where the heroine might just rub you the wrong way at first but then she grows on you and by the end of the novel you will rejoice in her growth. For some reason when I first saw this title I read it at "Detectives" but then realized it was "Defectives", which had me curious.

Markie is a hard woman and one that is hard to like. You want to understand her and you want to empathize with her but at times she makes that so terribly impossible. Which is why I had mucho respect for Mrs. Saint who kept trying and trying to break down those wall. I get why Markie moved away from her posh neighborhood, school and life because what happened was embarrassing until the next scoop of gossip comes around and your situation is forgotten.  Markie spends a lot of time blaming her ex for being selfish as well as her parents, not realizing that in her own way she is as well. She up and moved her son, Jessie, to another town before asking him what he wanted and expected him to adapt. So he shuts himself down and hibernates to his room in the basement.

It is really Mrs. Saint and her group of "defectives" that help pull Jessie out of his shell and bond with others. Eventually, through persistence, faith she broke down those walls of Markie's. Enough so that maybe she could make peace with herself, bond with her son and forgive her ex-husband.

There is also an underlying mystery around Mrs. Saint  herself and her merry band of defectives. How are they bonded together? Why does she continue to help people who need help but don't know it? I loved how Ms. Timmer revealed her story at the end and really did feel like the missing pieces of the puzzle were coming together to make it whole.

I don't have to like a character in a book but I have to see them grow and change a bit, I'm not expecting a 180 because that's not realistic. Just some kind of revelation that makes them self-aware and Ms. Timmer accomplished that with Markie.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Mrs. Saint and the Defectives to read; you won't regret it.



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Friday, July 28, 2017

Julie's Review: The Party


Author: Robyn Harding
Series: None
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: For all the hype I was disappointed
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Summary: In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies. One invitation. A lifetime of regrets. Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong? But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed. If you loved Liane Moriarty’s and HBO's Big Little Lies, you’ll love The Party by Robyn Harding. This fast paced book exposes how even the most perfect of families can be shadowed by lies and betrayals. This is one page-turner you’re going to want to bring with you on vacation, to the beach, and add to your nightstand to be read. ~amazon.com  

Review: So much hype around The Party this summer but for this reader it fell short of it. I will say that it's a quick read. I will say that you need to be prepared for the shallowness that is in this book. It's not just from the teens either, it's the parental units as well. Honestly, there aren't a lot of likable characters in the book but hey that's life as well.

The story is told from various points of view and I think it could have been narrowed down because it muddied the story for me. Now I'm sure that if I had not gotten all those points of view, I would have wanted them to some degree. What shocked me wasn't that the kids broke the rules, it was how that impacted and changed them. Hannah was the most changed and not in the best way; she became what she despised. I never felt that the truth about Hannah was exposed other than she wanted to be every other teenager and fit in, be popular. I think they would be more shocked about how their daughter acted due to the aftermath of the party.

While this could have been an great expose on teens, family and parenting, it fell a little flat. It's about over parenting (i.e. helicopter parenting), teen behavior and taking ownership for your actions. No child is perfect and no parent is perfect either; trying to be perfect leads to disaster.



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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Julie's Review: Saints for All Occasions


Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Series: None
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 352
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful family-centric novel about the secrets we keep
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Summary: Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together. ~amazon.com  

Review: Saints for All Occasions makes you realize that every family is dysfunctional to some degree and our parents always are a bit different than we think they are. Nora and Theresa are sisters but Nora acts more like a mother to her younger sister given the fact that their mother died when they were younger. So it's no surprise that when they arrive in Boston, Theresa rebels a bit which ends up having consequences for the entire family. Something of which neither of them fully understands until it is too late.

Theresa escapes into the convent before realizing it was where she was meant to be her entire life. That isn't to say that Theresa doesn't still have some rash behaviors in her but she's definitely mellowed. She comes into her own and is someone the younger nuns look up to for advice. She also has the benefit of having her best friend there along side her, which means it isn't so lonely for her.

Nora, on the other hand, runs a fairly large Catholic family but is truly lonely. She's not happy and doesn't know how to be. She's at her best when pulling together a family function that she can concentrate on. She's taken over the role of matriarch but is closed off to her emotions. I know the book summary said that Patrick was her favorite but I never really got that impression. I understood that she felt like she needed to protect him because of how his life started out but not the favorite. I'm not sure Nora knew how to have a favorite because that would require more energy than she was willing to give.

Ms. Sullivan does a great job of making the reader think about how decision can affect things decades later. Sometimes you can only make decisions with the information you had in front of you. How well do you know your family, especially your parents? You only see the people they have become after having kids, who were they before? Should we have some inkling of who they were before us?

Saints for All Occasions is a novel that gets the complexities of families and how they shape who we become.


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Julie's Review: All the Best People


Author: Sonja Yoerg
Series: None
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A look into the history of mental illness as it effects 3 generations of women
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Summary: Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else. But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother. An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives. ~amazon.com  

Review: With mental illness at the forefront of a great many discussions in the last year, All the Best People, comes at a time when we need to be reminded how far we've come and yet how far we have to go. The story is told in alternating view points by 3 generations of women in the same family: Solange, Carole and Allison.

As we delve in to each of their stories and view points, it is interesting to see how much their lives have been effected by either being afflicted or watching those you love deteriorate because of a disease. My heart went out to Allison because she was at a point in her life where she really needed her mother and her mother was struggling with her own issues that she wasn't sure how to talk about. Her aunt was even less help because she was so caught up in her own life, she couldn't see or perhaps didn't care that her sister was suffering.

Unfortunately, Solange's story was probably fairly typical for back in the 20's and 30's. Where if a wife didn't conform to her husband's wishes or brought shame up the family, he could institutionalize her with no way of getting out. So she was put in a mental hospital for being strong willed and wanting out of her marriage, with no way out. The things they did to that woman in the name of science and treatment were outrageous! They most definitely did more damage then the "hysteria" she was admitted for having.

I adored how great Walt was with Carole when it all finally came to a head. He didn't berate her or scold her, he was loving and supportive. I don't think she was ever afraid that he wouldn't be but she didn't know how to talk about it. Even since the 70s, much has changed in how we treat mental illness, especially pharmacology. We still have a long way to go but progress isn't made overnight, either.

If you are looking for a book that addresses how mental illness can affect families, then look no further than All the Best People.


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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Julie's Review: Homegoing


Author: Yaa Gyasi
Series: None
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 320
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Grab this book immediately. It is special.
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Summary: The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day. Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation. ~amazon.com  

Review: You know how some books get a lot of hype, you read them and wonder what the hype is all about? Well, Homegoing is NOT one of these books. This book is so powerful and moving. The writing is striking and lyrical. It is a book that should not be missed.

We are first introduced to Effia and her life in her village and then in the Castle. How a family secret changes the course of her life and her descendants. Then we meet Esi who has a completely different fate in the Castle than Effia and how that affects her descendants. Which begs the question, do we have control over our own lives or is it already written? Do the choices of our ancestors affect our lives?

I loved and learned something different from each of these short stories. You never fully go back to the characters you are introduced to but you learn more about them from their offspring and their stories. You see history through different eyes and perhaps open your eyes to a different view.

Ms. Gyasi has a true gift. Her storytelling is wonderful. Her use of words evoke strong feelings towards the characters. I really can't wait to see what she has for us readers next. This is a book that you need to experience yourself and then recommend to everyone you see. So, go grab Homegoing now.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Julie's Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: None
Publication Date: June 3,2017
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Not at all what I expected but it was wonderful
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Summary: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a book about the choices we make and the consequences of those choice on our life and those we love the most. Evelyn Hugo is one of the most famous actresses from the 1950s and 1960s with her fair share of scandals. Now she's ready to tell her story without apologies. Although even at the beginning you have to wonder what is in it for her? What's her angle because Evelyn always has one.

Monique Grant is a journalist with Viviant magazine who Evelyn has requested to do a piece on her for the magazine, only that's not what she wants. Monique is to write her biography and to publish it after she dies. Which means that Monique will make millions off of it.  She just has to figure out how to handle it with her boss at Vivant.

I won't go into the details of all seven marriage of Evelyn's but each one took a piece of her and also helped her accomplish a goal. Evelyn wasn't anything if not resourceful and strategic. Evelyn very rarely felt remorse for the things that she had done. It is this and the fact that she states, several times, that she would do it all again even if it had the same outcomes and hurt the same people. How honest is that? It is what made me admire her just like Monique did.

This book might have been a stray from what Ms. Reid usually writes about but it still has her humor and eloquence. While the novel has several themes running throughout it, the main one is love. It always comes down to the ones we love the most and what we will do for them.

I highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for any one who wants a wonderful book that is character driven and centered around a strong female.

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